KBB - October 2013 - (Page 39)
What retailers are experiencing with
today’s potential client
There is still a solid belief in our industry that the best way to sell our goods
is to be established in the old-fashioned brick and mortar—a business
both trustworthy and sound. A showroom is a high-priced commitment
by its owner to offer beautiful displays and convenience in a way that can
improve the communication and remodeling experience for all involved.
Not long ago, this was considered to be the hallmark of reliability. I can
recall not long before that when handshakes were as reputable as a contract, but I digress to the good old days.
There is an increasing trend in the industry to render the same offerings in the way of sales without a showroom. That is, of course, through the
Internet. From a warehouse in the middle of nowhere or a low overhead
guest room in a home, companies are formed to sell cabinets, tile, appliances, plumbing fixture, light fixtures, etc., and all may be obtained for a
It should come as no surprise that the Internet has been invading the
world of renovation for quite some time, but keeping up with the information any homeowner can acquire and the discounted prices they are
receiving is arduous at best. Though shopping online is mainly about the
price, homeowners most likely will not click away thousands of dollars
without more information or proof of the item’s value without physically
seeing or touching it. So before a commitment to a purchase, they head
out to the nearest location to view their desired merchandise.This is called
“showrooming,” and this is where yours comes in.
I’ve had some experience with this while working in a showroom, and
here’s how it has been told by others as well. How it normally might work is
the homeowner may find a remodeling idea online or in a magazine and
then seek it out offline in the form of a showroom. After questioning the designer/dealer about the details of materials and their prices, he/she may
go back online to research the best prices available. This may or may not
have a negative affect on you, but there is certainly potential for feeling
violated should you never see or hear from that person again, or worse, if
you allow yourself to be reduced to selling just a few items at a discount.
So there you sit Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 in a clean, updated, colorful dream of a showplace that your hard-earned cash paid for
to accommodate any particular taste that may walk in. Your experience
and knowledge alone is worth more than all the yearly upgrades to your
displays, and your design abilities are more valuable still. Knowing a possible showroomer may be your next potential client, what do you do? Well,
if you sense you are being used, there are two ways to approach them:
Cut the time you spend on this non-customer, or make him/her one by
talking up your value-add to the entire project. Ask what they deem is
important, and let them sell themselves to you.
Those in the kitchen and bath industry suggest a few other things:
• Know and be confident in your design talents and your products, i.e.;
express your philosophies, talk about your imperative duties as the
designer, let your creativity adjust the costs instead of discounting. If
they don’t get it, let the doorknob hit ‘em.
• Choose low-maintenance materials that suit your overhead (nothing that causes call backs, refunds or time-consuming details, associate with easy to deal with business people).
• Know your clientele. Recognize the different types of potential clients.
i.e.; those that need more assistance than others, those interested
only in the design or a few items.
• Make things easy for yourself. Choose smaller over larger square
footage space. Lessen your overhead. Focus on specific offerings
• Offer deals on items you know will work in the overall profit.
• Offer a walk-up computer prepped with links to only the products
One thing is for sure, dropping or matching the Internet price will only
get you “that” client. It’s best not to invest in those you can sense will be
difficult and draining from the beginning. Everyone has spent some time
in the red because of that type of client. I don’t know anyone who can
afford to take the chance now.
In reality, we’ve been ripped off in this industry one way or another in
decades passed. It doesn’t happen that often, nor is it that different from
the way we are being dooped now. It just feels sneakier. So if you sense
you’ve got a showroomer on you hands, do what you would during any
other unfavorable time; maintain the good old-fashioned business ethics
that got you here in the first place. That’s something the showroomers or
the Internet cannot violate. n
—Lynn Aspatore is the owner of LP Designs, a kitchen and bath design
and space-planning firm in Walnut Creek, Calif.
www.kbbonline.com / October 2013
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - October 2013
KBB - October 2013
Show Director’s Note
Celebrity Design with...Nicole Curtis
Reader’s Choice Awards
KBIS Countdown to Design & Construction Week
Let there be Light
KBB - October 2013